Nail-gun-sharpening discontinued glow-in-the-dark pencils 1

What an odd blog post title, but it’s just about a few things worth mentioning that didn’t make it into their own blog posts. You might have already seen some on Bleistift’s Facebook page.

 

Pilot 78G

It’s quite sad to read that the Pilot 78G has been discontinued. I have been using one for a while and really like it. There were rumours about it being discontinued for a while, but it now seems to have come true. You can still get them cheap on eBay, especially the ones with M or B nibs.

Image from ebay seller currycurrysing

Image from ebay seller currycurrysing

I just bought a blue one with a fine nib. More expensive than many other 78Gs, but still not more expensive than a Lamy Safari.

 

Roald Dahl

Bruce send me this link to a video where Roald Dahl, probably most famous for his books for children, talks about sharpening pencils.

Nail Gun

A very different way of sharpening pencils: a nail gun with a built-in pencil sharpener on Reddit.

 

Glow-in-the-dark pencil

I wish our city had a store like that (Image © Karrot Entertainment)

I wish our city had a store like that (Image © Karrot Entertainment)

When our little one was watching CeeBeebies I noticed that the episode of Sarah & Duck he was watching also had some content for stationery fans. It was about a glow-in-the-dark pencil.

Glow-in-the-dark pencils (Image © Karrot Entertainment)

Glow-in-the-dark pencils (Image © Karrot Entertainment)


I believe that the use of the eBay image and the images shown in this blog post, taken from the third episode pf the third season of Sarah & Duck, falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.


Lunatic Paper

 

lunarcoverThe next Field Notes edition, Black Ice, has already been announced, so posting this Lunacy reviw end of November means I’m a bit late to the party, but anyway: here’s a quick look at the paper used in the Lunacy edition, Domtar Earth Choice and a comparison with the best and the worst Field Notes paper I have used so far.

 

The Boise Paper (County Fair)

The Boise Offset Smooth 50#T “Whitewash” can be found in the Field Notes County Fair edition1

 

The Finch Paper (Original)

The Finch Paper Opaque Smooth 60#T “Bright White” that can be found in the original Field Notes was a disappointment. Graphite is quite light on this paper – I guess it would make good paper for soft leads, though. Ink, from fountain pens and even from gel pens, get sucked into the paper and is happy to bleed easily through the page …unless you have a very dry pen.

The new Black Ice edition will use Finch paper again, but this time “Bright White” Finch Fine Smooth 70# text paper. The description on Finch’s web site sounds as if Finch Fine is better paper than Finch Opaque, but the information on the web site is written for people printing on these papers, not hand writing on these papers, so for me it remains to be seen whether Fine is better than Opaque. If you own the America the BeautifulFrost Gray or DDC Orange editions you have used Finch Fine in a different colour, so you might be able to judge whether it is better for handwriting, drawing etc.

 

The Domtar Paper (Lunacy)

So here’s the ‘new’ Domtar paper. According to their web site it’s “the largest family of environmentally responsible papers ever assembled” (not the most environmentally responsible papers ever assembled).

Looking at the Domtar web site I think Domtar Earth Choice “Gray” 60#T with “Moondust Gray” must be the Earth Choice Colors Opaque Text, but I’m not 100% sure.

Looking at this Paper weights table I guess the 60# weight used for this paper must be equivalent to 90g/m².

domtar

 

The Test

The paper is tested using the same parameters as in previous paper tests and explained here. In short: The pencil lead used has a nominal diameter of 0.7mm and an actual diameter of 0.68mm (more info about nominal vs actual  dimaters can be found here). This is equivalent to a surface area of 0.36mm². A force of 1.5N is used, which, in this case, is equivalent to 4.17 MegaPascals for this surface area.

3fns

Left to Right: Boise, Domtar, Finch

The violin plots show how dark the pencil marks left on the paper are. The general idea is that darker marks are easier to read and are therefore better. Darker marks result is violin plots that are lower positioned as a black values would be low (near 0 on the y axis (left)), while light marks are towards the top.

The Outcome

Well, it’s grey paper, so there’s no surprise when we see that the violin plot shows that Domtar’s ‘violin’ doesn’t get anywhere near the white value reached by Boise or Finch paper. If you look closely you can also see that the Boise paper is not as white as the Finch paper.

If you look closely at the marks left by graphite you can see that the paper will ‘shine’ through the line written on the paper as the roughness of the paper means that graphite isn’t left evenly on the mark left. This is where the paper colour for the test can be ‘picked up’ by the violin plot.

The Domtar paper doesn’t take graphite as well as Boise (County Fair) paper, but certainly better than Finch (Original/Kraft) paper. Because of the lower starting point, due to the greyness of the paper, overall ‘contrast’ isn’t however much better than the Finch paper.

I am happy to say that the Domtar paper behaves much better with ink than the Finch paper.

For pencils there is better paper out there, e.g. Atoma, Banditapple or Silvine, but the paper quality is not the main attraction of the Field Notes anyway.

A violin plot comparing Boise, Domtar and Finch paper

The Links

If you like to read more about the Field Notes Lunacy edition have a look at Ed JelleyFountain Pen Follies,  OfficeSupplyGeek or Pens and Junk. For anything Field Notes related please visit Three Staples.

Update 25 Nov 2016: I just finished listening to The Pen Addict Podcast #232, where Brad and Myke give further insights into the paper used for different Field Notes. The question about Field Notes paper starts at 1:10:10. 


In case you wonder about how I use the Field Notes in the photo: The yellow County Fair contains notes from medical visits from our son, the Luncay one isn’t being used yet, and in the Original one, labelled ‘Ausgaben’ I try to follow Sola’s example and try to keep notes of money spent.

  1. More about this paper can be found in this blog post. []

Seven years, 23 YouTube subscribers and a giveaway 42

Well, time flies. It’s already seven years since Bleistift started with its first blog post.

As done in in previous recent anniversary posts here’s a quick behind the scenes look and some of my thoughts about the blog.

This time I will mainly focus on Bleistift’s YouTube videos1, the first one which first appeared just a bit more than a year ago, in September 2015.

 

Video Quality

The videos are easy in a sense that they don’t require as much background work as blog posts, but the video image quality isn’t very good, mainly because of the lack of space in our home and the lack of light (because the windows are quite small). I could set it up nicely somewhere on the floor in a corner, with some lights, but there’s usually not enough time for that. Blog posts on the other hand can be started and interrupted as often as I like, because there is no set up time, so it’s easier to find a few minutes here and there to work on a blog post. Plus you don’t notice our kid making noise in the background. Something you do notice this in the videos.

No wonder there’s no space in our home, have a look at new home sizes around the world2.

CountrySize in square metres
UK76
Germany109
Denmark137
USA201

Both issues, size and light, apply equally to taking photos, but with photos you can compensate for the poor light by exposing longer and the lack of space isn’t too bad as you can just put things on the window sill for close ups etc.

I hope to improve the quality of future videos. You might have noticed that for the last video (sharpening with a hard disk) I was wearing a coat. That was because I did that vide in the garage. Don’t expect too much though, for the foreseeable future there won’t be enough time to set the videos up nicely.

 

The most disliked Bleistift video so far: The Kuru Toga video

It seems as if the Kuru Toga is are always a source of controversy. The idea of rotating the lead wasn’t new, see Schmidt’s patent, and the implementation, i.e. Kuru Toga’s mechanism, doesn’t work for me, probably because I don’t use enough pressure when writing. This blog presents my personal opinion, but some people seem to get upset if you say that this pen doesn’t work for everyone as advertised.

The Kuru Toga Pipe Slide

The Kuru Toga Pipe Slide

Keeping this in mind it’s no wonder that my Kuru Toga video has twice as many dislikes as likes (2 dislikes, 1 like).

Well, I am sure it’s great if you write Kanjis, but they are officially selling the pen in the West, I am not importing a pen not to be sold in the west, so I think it’s only fair to point this out and to show what leads to the pen not performing as advertised. I’m not saying it’s a bad pen, I’m just disappointed that it doesn’t work for me. I don’t doubt it works well for others (unlike the uni-ball air. I have three of the broad type now, but with the best will: the uni-ball air doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do).

 

The most popular video: Refilling pencils? Why??

I also don’t get why some videos are popular while others aren’t.

The DelGuard pen force test, the first video and therefore online for the longest time, is not very popular (about 11 views per week overall), even though I find this test exciting. Also: getting the force to display correctly and in sync with the video wasn’t easy. I think the idea was good and the fact that a few weeks after my video Zebra, the company behind the DelGuard, made a Japanese video with similar elements shows that it’s useful in conveying how the pen works.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised about the lack of interest though, because the blog post about the DelGuard only got one comment, despite the effort that went into trying to produce an accurate diagram that shows how much pressure can be applied before the lead breaks when extended how far.

What force is needed to break a lead of what length.

How much force is needed to break a lead extended a certain length in the DelGuard.

In comparison the refilling a mechanical pencil video is quite meaningless, but is much more popular (about 35 views per week overall).

The lesson here is that my audience doesn’t like complicated stuff. No point in writing things down that no one wants to read anyway. You might have noticed that I am now trying to keep blog posts simple. It doesn’t always work as blog posts tend to end up more complicated than first planned – but I’m working on it.

 

Using bloggers to sell products

Something else I noticed is that since I started seven years ago there are more and more companies that want their products being advertised by bloggers, but they don’t provide a sample (so small bloggers are supposed to basically just relay a marketing message for a product you don’t know).
I have linked to many Kickstarter projects I found interesting, even though I didn’t get anything free from these campaigns, on the contrary I spent money to buy/back the product. Bloggers do that because they get excited about these products. What has changed is that now companies just sent you their press releases without any additional information. Unlike them I don’t earn money from this, it costs me money, like it does for many other non-commercial blogs. I do get some benefits from this blog: The two most expensive things I got in these seven years was (Number 1) being invited to Insights X followed by (Number 2) a Lamy 2000 mechanical pencil, worth £46 (~$57; €53). I guess you could count these ‘benefits’ against he cost of the server, but there still wouldn’t be any money left.
Because of the non-commercial nature of this blog I am quite unhappy when companies misuse non-commercial blogs, e.g. like Book Block did. I found the idea great so there was no need to promise me anything to get me to post about it, so why tell me they’ll send a notebook and make me design it when they won’t send it, even after repeated email exchanges about this? This is even more frustrating as they did send samples to the big blogs, like Desk of Adam, Gentleman Stationer, Pentorium, Woodclinched (I think Andy said he got one), but small blogs get like mine get told they’ll send a sample, but then they can’t be bothered to keep their word.

Well, a while ago Paper Oh told me on Instagram they want to send me a notebook. Let’s see what will happen.

I know many other examples that shall not be named where other companies use bloggers not only for input, but to do important tasks that are part of product development or creation and after the work is done the bloggers then get ignored or don’t even get to see the final product, even though it is sold for a cheap price, i.e. is available. I have not been treated like this, but it is a shame that the small bloggers sometimes do get misused in this way.

It didn’t used to be like this and it is a shame that it is like this now.

Giveaway

Well, since this is an anniversary post there’s also a giveaway.

The winner will get a surprise package that contains at least one item from each of the following categories

  • wood cased pencils
  • mechanical pencils
  • sharpeners
  • erasers
  • fountain pen

I think it’s definitely worth taking part!

Why? Look at this previous giveaway: The pens from the previous giveaway are currently selling for £68 + £44 = £112 (~$139; €131), the RRP is even higher, but there were only 30 comments, so on average every commenter won more than £3 (even though that’s no consolidation for those who didn’t win).

…and the best things is that I don’t make you follow me on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter and don’t make you write a poem either. All you need to do is post a comment here. The giveaway will be open for one week, until Monday, 28 November 2016, 23:59:59 Zulu time (GMT). If you don’t know what to write, just write “I would like to win” or something like that…

 

  1. which have 23 YouTube subscribers by now, in case you wonder about the title of this blog post. []
  2. Figures taken from The Telegraph and ShrinkThatFootprint []

Tree Top Path & Linden Pencils 2

I was still writing blog posts about my trip to Germany when Insights X and other things happened, so I never finished the blog posts about my time in Germany. Here’s my conclusion with a short post about pencils made from linden (lime) wood:

I had a great time – and it’s all Gunther’s ‘fault’: I never heard of tree top paths until I read about them on his blog. Well, recently a tree top path opened near my old home town and remembering Gunther’s blog post I couldn’t resist and visited.

A panorama shot from my phone. Excuse the panorama stitching mistakes.

A panorama shot from my phone. Excuse the panorama stitching mistakes.

Unlike the tree top path Gunther visited, this one, the Baumwipfelpfad Steigerwald, opens up towards the top, so it looks a bit like a tornado. When I was there the weather was great (nearly 30°C (>85°F)) and everyone liked it. After the walk (which took quite a while) I had a look in the little souvenir shop and was more than excited to see the linden wood (lime wood) pencils from the Bavarian State Forestry that Gunther mentioned in a blog post.

WoodAverage Dried WeightJanka Hardness
Incense Cedar385 kg/m32090 N
Jelutong450 kg/m31740 N
Basswood415 kg/m31824 N
European Lime535 kg/m33100 N

As you can see in this table with information the Wood Database European linden wood is quite a bit harder than other wood used for making pencils (Brasswood is American linden wood), so I am not surprised that this isn’t a common wood for pencils. At least not anymore. As described in Gunther’s blog post it was common in the 17th century. The average dried weight of European linden wood is a bit higher than other wood as is the Janka Hardness1. I assume you could treat the wood to change the hardness, but my assumption is that trying to influence the hardness too much wouldn’t be economical.

These pencils were made by Staedtler. As far as I know they use Bavarian graphite, but the clay is from another German state. With the wood being from Lower Franconia this is a nearly 100% Bavarian pencil.

Bavarian Linden Pencils

Here’s a video from the Bavarian State Forestry (in German) showing how these are made – from cutting the tree to the finished pencil. Interesting fact: in the video a Staedtler employee explains that they can get 2,000 – 10,000 pencils out of one tree.

Well, they made 100,000 pencils like this. Now there are a few less left as I couldn’t resist and bought a handful in the tree top path’s souvenir shop.


You can read more about the company where the wood is cut into slats in another blog post from Gunther.

 

  1. The amount of pounds-force (lbf) or newtons (N) required to imbed a .444″ (11.28 mm) diameter steel ball into the wood to half the ball’s diameter – see http://www.wood-database.com/wood-articles/janka-hardness/ []

Blades, pencils and Christmas tree ornaments

Just a few things I want to mention. I think there was something else I wanted to add, but I forgot…

Pollux spare blades

Thanks to Gunther from the Lexikaliker blog I got a set of spare blades for my Pollux when I met him last month at Insights X.  Thank you!

Pollux spare blades

Pollux spare blades

Royal Mail’s 17th century pencil

Royal Mail’s Great Fire of London Special Stamps feature a 17th century pencil. I don’t have the stamp, but I have the postcard with the same picture, so I thought I show you this pencil (the red one on the left), together with a similar pencil – the one from Staedtler’s historic pencil kit. Petroski (1989, p. 47)1 writes that by 1610 black lead was used by artists and others to fit into their wooden pencil cases ..so a pencil being used in the planning of the reconstruction of London in 1666 seems realistic.

Royal Mail's pencil from 1666

Royal Mail’s pencil from 1666

Kaweco Christmas Tree Ornament

You might have already seen this on Bleistift’s Facebook page: There’s a Kaweco Christmas Tree Ornament.

Kaweco Tree Ornament (Image © Kaweco or Massdrop)

Kaweco Tree Ornament (Image © Kaweco or Massdrop)

 

 


The photo of the Kaweco  Tree Ornament has been taken from the Massdrop offer of this product. I believe that showing the photo in this blog post falls under “fair dealing” as described by the UK Copyright service.

  1. Petroski, H. (1989) The Pencil []